1. I am now an amateur expert, if there is such a thing, on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Thank you, because in trying to understand the man you sent home broken, I have become a better nurse. My patients are well served.
2. I am better able to pick my battles. I can step away from a problem and wait. Most of the time.
3. I know first hand what PTSD can do to an individual.
4. I know firsthand what PTSD does to those who love them.
5. I always understood grief and anguish, pain and suffering. I have always understood souls. But now I have the almost unbearable pain of watching someone's soul suffer, someone whom I love dearly, where I can do nothing but watch and worry. And maybe let go.
6. I have re-learned to second guess myself at times.
7. And now I am re-learning to not.
8. I have learned that even the simplest requests/wants/needs are not always the easiest.
9. Of the many bodies and souls I have tried to help and heal, his is the one soul that I wanted to support. And the one that may be impossible to heal.
You took a young man, who did not lose his life overseas, but in reality, he has lost his life. You have taken many many others, and constantly re-deployed them in spite of their altered psyches, and sent back broken images of suffering, of guilt, of shame, of pain. These men and women are our forgotten angels, except I cannot and will not forget the one you sent to me. Nor the other ones I have met along the way.
I have learned that I have more compassion than I ever thought possible, and that all the compassion and love in the world may not be able to repair the damage to him, to me, to us. That these courageous men and women, and specifically, my man, are left within a shell so impenetrable that all the love and compassion in the world cannot help them, inspire them, comfort them, has my stomach and my soul in knots.
Expendable for a lifetime. That is what you have so carelessly sent home. Some get excellent care. Many do not. And yes, thank you, I know the ins and outs of sufferers themselves, that poor decision making can be rampant. That denial is constantly by their sides. But in constantly re-deploying those already affected with PTSD, you have given them and their family members a life sentence on a road so rocky that many end up alone, used, and abused. And deep down, oh so very frightened.
Whoever said "All you need is love" is a liar. And thank you for proving that to me.
And thank you for reminding me that when any of us is stripped of everything, of love, of dignity, of self worth, that we still possess a brass ring, a glimmer of hope. The soul.